Catholic Renewal Ministries, the officially designated office for charismatic renewal activity in the Diocese of Cleveland, had its 39th annual conference July 16 at St. Albert the Great Parish in North Royalton.
Hundreds gathered for praise and worship at the daylong event that featured speakers including Franciscan Sister Marie Fidelis; Barbara Heil, who came into full communion with the Church in 2013 after serving as a Pentecostal missionary, evangelist and pastor; and Father Robert Franco, pastor of St. Peter Parish in North Ridgeville and the diocesan liaison to CRM for the past 40 years. Matt Fafrak provided music for the conference.
(See photo gallery above.)
Mass was celebrated by Bishop-elect Michael Woost.
Theme for the conference was “Rejoice Always, Pray Without Ceasing and in all Things, Give Thanks.”
Although he was unable to attend, Bishop Edward Malesic sent a message to the group.
“Over the years, I have been inspired by the vibrant prayer and sense of joy that radiates from the faithful when our charismatic groups gather. I believe that God hears prayer that storms the heavens. And that as our hearts grow in love for God, we become greater witnesses of Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit helps us to lie his Gospel of life fully and consistently as we continue to grow in holiness,” Bishop Malesic said. He asked conference attendees to pray to the Holy Spirit “for the attainment of this unity of love that is a necessary witness for evangelization in the name of Jesus.”
Bishop-elect Woost told conference attendees he was happy to be with them.
Reflecting on the readings during the homily, he said there is a promise every time God visits us with his presence. He talked about the men who visited Abraham and Sarah, telling Abraham that when they came back the following year, Sarah would have a son. Her reaction was laughter, since she was beyond childbearing years.
“Nothing is impossible for God,” the bishop-elect said, noting Sarah did bear a son, as the visitors had promised. He explained that visit – which was from God – included a promise that was fulfilled.
“We, too, have been visited by God,” Bishop-elect Woost said. “I hope you experience that here today and will continue to experience it. God is always visiting his people and with every visit comes a promise.”
In the second reading, he explained that God’s greatest promise is already here. “The great mystery we share is the mystery revealed – that Christ is in us. We don’t need to travel far to see and learn that Christ lives within us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He dwells in us; he chose to dwell in us. We are feasting on the divine presence so God can make himself known through our lives,” the bishop-elect said.
Connecting that thought to the Gospel story of Mary and Martha, he said too often we are worried about unimportant things. But there are times when we are called like Mary “to sit at the feet of the Lord and to listen so we can sense the movement of the Spirit guiding and directing our lives. Hopefully, this was a ‘Mary day,’ allowing you to listen and hear the Holy Spirit, to know what God wants of you,” he said.
We pray that we might be able to see more clearly the divine promises of God and his mystery, he said.
“Christ is dwelling in our hearts. There is an outpouring of his spirit so we can be marked as a ‘Mary heart’ and listen and as a ‘Martha heart’ to bring his spirit to all we meet,” Bishop-elect Woost said. “We have been visited. Listen for the stirrings of the Spirit and allow the Lord to lead.”
After Mass, he asked the group to pray for Bishop Malesic who was on a retreat. “Pray that he may continue to have the strength to be our shepherd. And selfishly, I also ask that you pray for me. My ordination as auxiliary bishop is a couple of weeks away.”
The conference continued with dinner, healing teams for individual prayer, the rosary, a praise and worship healing service that included adoration, a procession and benediction.
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